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Memphis Grizzlies preview: Will Ja Morant’s suspension be a blessing in disguise?

Here’s a look at the Grizzlies ahead of the upcoming NBA season.

Memphis Grizzlies Training Camp
Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies looks on during a team practice on October 3, 2023 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee.
Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Ahead of the 2023-24 NBA season, DK Network is taking an in-depth look at all 30 teams. We’re going over all the big moves from the offseason, predicting the starting lineup, providing a fantasy basketball perspective, looking at relevant odds and assessing season expectations for each franchise. Here’s a look at the Memphis Grizzlies.

Memphis Grizzlies 2023-24 Outlook

Key additions: Marcus Smart, Derrick Rose

Even though Rose likely won’t play a role in games with important stakes, his presence is important for the franchise player Ja Morant. Rose has gone through the ups and downs of superstardom, and he can relate to what the young guard is going through. Having Rose as a mentor should do wonders for Morant while he serves his suspension. Smart will steady the ship for the first 25 games and should remain a starter unless his play is too uneven.

Key departures: Dillon Brooks

It’s ironic that what made Brooks so beloved in Memphis ultimately led to his downfall. He was doing all the little things and playing hard, something the team has built its identity on. Unfortunately, that translated into an overvaluation and some embarrassing moments on the floor. The Grizzlies will need someone else to step into the role of defensive stopper while also providing more stability offensively than Brooks.

Projected starting lineup

The Grizzlies will begin the season with Smart, Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane and Steven Adams as the starters. Either Luke Kennard or John Konchar will be the fifth guy. Once Morant returns, expect Smart to move to a secondary guard role and Bane will come down to small forward.

Fantasy basketball player to watch: Ja Morant

Morant is going to miss 25 games for sure, so it’s hard to judge when he should be taken in fantasy drafts. He’s a stud when he’s on the floor, and that has value for a maximum of 57 games. There’s a good chance Morant will be determined to prove he can be a true leader and superstar, which could result in elevated numbers. He could be the steal of a fantasy draft in the middle rounds.

Notable odds (via DraftKings Sportsbook)

Win total: 45.5
To make playoffs: Yes -250, No +200
To win West: +1300
To win NBA title: +3000

Season expectations

The Grizzlies held their own without Morant a season ago and they should be able to do the same to start the season, especially with Smart filling in. Memphis has been the No. 2 seed in the West in each of the last two seasons, so getting to the playoffs should not be a problem. The goal should be to reach the conference finals, while the expectation likely falls a bit below that. Given how loaded the West is and Morant’s suspension, the Grizzlies might not get a break in terms of seeding.

A secondary expectation would be to see some more development from David Roddy and Ziaire Williams. Brooks is gone, which frees up big minutes on the wing for both players. The Grizzlies need internal improvement to push their ceiling, and these two players are prime candidates to see a boost in production.